Control techniques to eliminate voltage emergencies in high performance processors


Russ Joseph, David Brooks, and Margaret Martonosi. 2/12/2003. “Control techniques to eliminate voltage emergencies in high performance processors.” In High-Performance Computer Architecture, 2/12/2003. HPCA-9 2/12/2003. Proceedings. The Ninth International Symposium on, Pp. 79–90. Anaheim, CA, USA: IEEE. Publisher's Version


Increasing focus on power dissipation issues in current microprocessors has led to a host of proposals for clock gating and other power-saving techniques. While generally effective at reducing average power, many of these techniques have the undesired side-effect of increasing both the variability of power dissipation and the variability of current drawn by the processor This increase in current variability, often referred to as the dI/dt problem, can cause supply voltage fluctuations. Such voltage fluctuations lead to unreliable circuits if not addressed, and increasingly expensive chip packaging techniques are needed to mitigate them. This paper proposes and evaluates a methodology for augmenting packaging techniques for dI/dt with microarchitectural control mechanisms. We discuss the resonant frequencies most relevant to current microprocessor packages, produce and evaluate a "dI/dt stressmark" that exercises the system at its resonant frequency, and characterize the behavior of more mainstream applications. Based on these results plus evaluations of the impact of controller error and delay, our microarchitectural control proposals offer bounds on supply voltage fluctuations, with nearly negligible impact on performance and energy. With the ITRS roadmap predicting aggressive drops in supply voltage and power supply impedances in coming chip generations, novel voltage control techniques will be required to stay on track. Our microarchitectural dI/dt controllers represent a step in this direction.
Last updated on 05/04/2022